Tuesday 15 October 2019

Word of mouth sparks wildfire

Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker

Ed Power

Gone Girl is the publishing sensation of the year, with the paperback edition selling half-a-million copies in its first month in the UK alone.

It's got a stellar fanbase, too – Sarah Jessica Parker, Jackie Collins and Reese Witherspoon are among the novel's high-profile devotees, with Witherspoon producing a just-announced movie adaptation.

"It has been the biggest seller in the shop," says Bob Johnston of Dublin's Gutter Bookshop. "It actually sold out before Christmas which is always a pain. But it was when the paperback came out in January that it really took off.

"It is a real word-of-mouth bestseller – one of those books someone will read and tell their friends.

"One person recommends it to another and it has became a phenomenon from there."

The key to the book's appeal is its snappy style, propulsive pace and the fact it's packed with unexpected twists, he feels.

"It's a real page-turner. There is that Dan Brown thing of short punchy chapters and plenty of surprises. It has all those elements. And it is also better written than some hits. It isn't post-modern literature in translation.

"However, it is well put together and it's nice to have something you can recommend to people that is actually a decent enough book. That said, I didn't really like it. I thought it was a bit drawn out and got very silly at the end. It wasn't my thing."

He sees it as a sort of successor to Fifty Shades of Gray, last year's big publishing shock.

"These surprise hits are exactly that. Nobody expects them to take off. Fifty Shades was 2012's word-of-mouth phenomenon. This year it's Gone Girl. When it comes down to it, these bestsellers usually have something that little bit different which appeals to the public imagination.

"I do wonder how they will make the movie work, though. The book is told from two different perspectives and there is a big twist in the middle. I'm sure they will find a way, though I think the film might be quite different from the novel."

ED POWER

Irish Independent

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